Stop Wasting Precious
Proposal Time!
Chris Simmons, Rainmakerz Consulting LLC
APMP Georgia Chattahoochee Chapter
September 29, 2010
The Time Management Challenge
Basic Needs
Eating, Sleeping,
Exercise, Relaxing
Significant Others
Adrienne, Spencer,
Shea, Family, Friends
Work
•
•
•
•
Proposals
Other billable
Non-Billable
APMP
Other
Church, PTA,
Chores, Hobbies
8,760 hrs.
Many of us spend too much time at work leaving precious
little time for other (more important) things.
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The Time Management Solution
Work
•
•
•
•
Proposals
Other billable
Non-Billable
APMP
Basic Needs
Eating, Sleeping,
Exercise, Relaxing
Significant Others
Adrienne, Spencer,
Shea, Family, Friends
Other
Church, PTA,
Chores, Hobbies
8,760 hrs.
Being more productive at work means more personal time
for you.
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Time Management Challenges…
….for Proposal Professionals
‘Issues’ Survey
 Not enough time to respond
 No respect for proposal schedule deadlines
 Limited resources that increase time pressures
 The biggest challenge I face is time!
 12 other time related issues
The most frequently mentioned proposal development issues
are related to time management.
(Source: 24Hour Company Issues, April, 2008)
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The History of Time Management
Egyptian-built obelisks
Middle East (3500 BC)
Spring powered
and pendulum
clocks (1600 AD)
Egyptian
sundial
(1500 BC)
Quartz (digital)
watches (1920)
Greek/Roman
water clocks
(100 BC)
Cesium atomic
clock NIST
(1967)
Time management started more than 6,000 years ago and
continues to increase in popularity and diversity.
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Proposal Management Challenges
RFP
issued
Proposal
kickoff
APMP Conference
Proposal
due date
Many proposals are doomed for failure even before they begin,
largely because there isn’t enough time.
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7 Time Management Reco’s and Tips
Lucky
Number ‘7’
Days in a week
Habits of highly
effective people
Deadly Sins
The seven high impact recommendations and tips will help
you get more out of your proposal in less time.
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1. Set Ground Rules and PLAN
Proposal
Plan
Capture
Plan
Opportunity overview
Customer analysis
Competitor analysis
Critical success factors
Win strategy
High-level solution(s)
Proposal team organization
High-Level outline
Methodology
Schedule
Processes, tools. Templates
Lessons learned
Thorough advanced planning is one of the cornerstones of
managing time efficiently and effectively.
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Use a Proposal Development Methodology
Methodologies
• ShipleyAssociates • CapturePlanning.com
• SM&A
• LORE
15-day Schedule
RFP
• Priorities
• Constraints
Storyboards
Pink
Gold
Use the appropriate methodology and take proposal priorities
and constraints into account.
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Secure Appropriate Resources
Technical Section:
 50 page target
 All new narrative
(industry average = 5 pages/day)
 5 days to complete
 1 writer
Options:
1. Base section on boilerplate (not recommended)
2. Work writer 16+ hour days (not recommended)
3. Request another full-time writer
Verify the right number of resources with the right skills.
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Pick the Right Time and Start Meetings
on Time…Every Time
Starting meetings on time shows you mean business and value
everyone’s time.
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2. Organize the Work into Small,
Manageable Steps
Let’s…
…start writing
and review in a
week
Let’s…
…understand the RFP
…determine solution(s)
…develop an outline
…storyboard/module plan
Don’t let your proposal team go off for too long on a single task.
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Avoid Scheduling Work on Weekends…at
least initially
Don’t plan to work weekends, but be prepared if it becomes
absolutely necessary.
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Mutually Agree on Deadlines
When will it be done!
When can it be done?
Best case scenario
No constraints
Optimum efficiency
Constraints
Limitations
Miscommunication
Inherent
inefficiencies
Murphy’s Law
Work with your team to close the gap between the perfect
world and a less than perfect reality.
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Set Deadline Windows and Avoid the
COB Syndrome
Storyboard deadline window
Deadline windows help to bridge the gap between the perfect
world and the practical realities of the real world.
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Set Specific Deadline Times (within the
windows)
Storyboard deadline window
Writer’s Checklist
“Your section is due on June
18th at 11:00am in the
SharePoint SB folder with all
checklist items complete.”
 File name
 Sections complete
 Spell check
 Passive voice (<5%)
 Sentence length
 Forbidden words
 +/- 10% pages
Set specific deadline times that strike a balance between
writer needs and reviewer demands.
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3. Focus on Status and Next Steps
“Almost done”
“Done but I haven’t
turned it in”
“95% completed”
“Waiting on input from…”
“Something came up”
Keep the team accountable with daily status summaries and
action item lists with owners and due dates.
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Use a Section Status Summary
For Murder:
Vicky
Volume
(Section 1)
Review a simple color-coded status summary during daily
stand-ups to identify proposal bandits.
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Schedule Time-Outs
WHEN?
Missed deadlines
Incomplete work
Poor quality
Low output
WHY?
Discuss circumstances
Confirm understanding
Reset expectations
Commit to action
Schedule time-outs to confirm understanding, to reset
expectations, and reach a mutual commitment to action.
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4. Keep Interactions Short and ActionOriented
Conversations
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Meetings
9
?
3
6
Email Messages
Meetings, conversations, and email messages can be big time
wasters if not managed closely.
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Meetings
How long is this
meeting going to
go? I’m going to
be late for golf!


o
o
o
Agenda
Item-1 (12:05)
Item-2 (12:15)
Item-3 (12:30)
Item-4 (12:45)
Item-5 (1:15)
Always distribute an agenda with time allocations and
manage the meeting to finish early.
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Conversations
DO’s
Get to know co-workers
Develop rapport
Be cordial
Have fun
Keep it short
Talk about it at lunch
DONT’S
Discuss detailed personal
issues/problems
Be disruptive to others
10+ minute personal
conversations
Avoid detailed personal conversations on project time.
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E-Mail Messages
Never send a chain-mail, joke mail, or other non-work
related message to your team.
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5. Don’t Hesitate to Escalate
The Team We Need?
The Team We Have!
“Houston, we’ve got a problem.”
(Jim Lovell, Apollo 13, April 14, 1970)
A big part of having enough proposal time is making sure the
right resources are in place to do the job.
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Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities
Ed Executive
Carl Capture
Matt Manager
Kurt Cost
Vicki Volume
Lead
Carol
Coordinator
Walter Writer
Make sure the proposal organization is clearly defined and
effectively communicated.
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Provide Management with Realistic
Options and Trade-offs
Proposal A: ‘Must Win’
 Detailed plans and
processes
 Additional resources
 Reassignments
 Training
 Additional equipment
 Specialization
 SME/Operational support
 Graphics rich
 Themes and discriminators
Proposal B: ‘Make Due’
 No plans
 Limited resources
 Static organization
 Do your best…..
 Lack of experience/skills
 Generalists
 Boilerplate
 Unsubstantiated claims
and marketing fluff
Develop and communicate viable options with resource
alternatives or reset expectations if necessary.
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6. Communicate, Communicate,
Communicate
“It’s due tomorrow
(Tuesday) at 10am.”
“It’s due
tomorrow around
10 (pm?).”
“Do as much
as you can by
Wednesday
morning.”
“I think it’s due by
COB.”
One of the most common proposal team problems is the
inability to communicate even basic ideas.
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You Hear What You Want to Hear!
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Use the Right Communication Channel
Telephone Face-toCall?
face?
Email?
Instant
Message?
Voicemail Message
Ignore?
Telephone Call
In general, return messages using the same communication
channel.
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Walk the Halls
How is it going?
Management (by walking around) can make communication
more efficient and effective.
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 Standard processes
 ‘Right’ people, tools and
templates
 Disciplined approach
 Customer focus
 A lot less boilerplate
High
Low
EFFICIENCY: Getting it in
7. Make it Better the Next Time
 Ad hoc processes
 Not enough resources
 Lack of discipline
 Internal focus
 Too much boilerplate
 Working more/winning less
 Working less/winning
more
Low
High
EFFECTIVENESS: Securing the win
Make lessons learned a standard part of your proposal
development process.
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Get Feedback in Writing
Feedback Form Score Summary
Very Satisfied (5.0)
Mostly Satisfied (4.0)
Satisfied (3.0)
Partially Dissatisfied (2.0)
Very Dissatisfied (1.0)
Delivery
Process
Project
Management
Final
Deliverable
People/
Team
Solicit feedback from a wide variety of proposal team
members and put it in writing.
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Develop Action-Oriented
Recommendations
People
•
•
•
•
Level of resources
Experience/Skills mix
Roles/Responsibilities
Communication
Process
•
•
•
•
•
•
BD/Capture
Proposal Management
Proposal Development
Proposal Production
Technology Process
Communication
Technology
• Document
Management
• Version Control
• Knowledge
Management
• Communication
 Identify strengths and
improvement areas
 Develop actionoriented
recommendations
 Deliver to appropriate
management
 Suggest a time to
discuss
Develop recommendations for improvement and discuss with
management to develop an action plan.
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What TM Gurus and Wannabees Say
Make a “To Do’ list every day
Use spare minutes wisely
It’s OK to say “No”
Review your notes every day
Get a good night’s sleep
Become a taskmaster
Don’t waste time agonizing
Keep things in perspective
Use technology wisely
Prioritize ruthlessly
Time management gurus and wannabees have similar time
management concepts and recommendations.
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What if…Time is Really Running Out?
 Time must be explicitly managed
You can change your plan, but
only if you have one
 Are you spending your time on
the right things?
Develop a good filing system
 Rethink the telephone
 Delegate
 Take a timeout
Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have
less than you think. ---Randy Pauch (www.thelastlecture.com)
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Time IS on Your Side…YES IT IS!
Shea (5) and Spencer (8)
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Adrienne
References
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
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About.com, 11 Time Management Tips, Susan Ward
About.com, Determining Your Personal Return on Investment, Susan Ward
CollegeBoard.com, Time Management Tips for High School Students
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity, David Allen, Penguin Books,
2001
Journal of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, The Big Proposal
Management Study of 2009, Spring/Summer 2009
Linked-In (www.linkedin.com) APMP Group Discussion
New York Times, Meetings are a Matter of Precious Time, Reid Hastie, January 17,
2009
ShipleyAssociates Proposal Guide for Business and Technical Professionals
(Winning Business), Third Edition
TFCN (www.federalcontractor.us) Program/Project Management; Business Development
Group Discussions
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Simon & Schuster, 1989
The CapturePlanning.com MustWin Process Workbook, 2008 Edition
The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch, Hyperion, 2008
Copyright © 2010, Rainmakerz Consulting, LLC
Chris Simmons
Principal
Rainmakerz Consulting LLC
www.rainmakerz.biz
202-255-2355
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Stop Wasting Precious Proposal Time!